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Keryx: Readers React to Perifosine Prediction

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Readers have responded in force to my column last week predicting failure for Keryx Pharmaceuticals' (KERX - Get Report) colon cancer drug perifosine. Not surprisingly, a majority of the comments came from Keryx shareholders disputing the theory that Keryx's micro-cap valuation bodes poorly for perifosine's chances when results from a late-stage trial are announced early next year.

I'm sticking with my gloomy forecast for perifosine, as is my fellow prognosticator University of Chicago oncologist and professor Dr. Mark Ratain. But in the interest of extending the debate, I'll address questions and comments sent in by readers over the past few days.

Before I do that, I have to tell you about the letter sent to TheStreet's legal department and me by a Keryx attorney at Alston & Bird on Tuesday night. Attorney Mark McElreath, writing presumably on behalf of Keryx CEO Ron Bentsur, asks if I'm shorting Keryx stock, or if I'm being paid by anyone shorting Keryx stock. The letter also asks me if I'm in possession of non-public information related to the perifosine phase III study, or if I know anyone who's in possession of such non-public information.

My responses couldn't be clearer: No. No. No. No. If that's difficult for anyone to understand, feel free to read TheStreet's conflict of interest policy -- one of the strictest such policies at any media company. Or, read the disclosure that sits at the bottom of every column I write:

"Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships."

Keryx's "questions" are the sort of baseless, amateurish and false insinuations that I expect to read on a biotech stock message board, not in a letter from a high-priced corporate attorney. If I were a director on Keryx's board, I'd be questioning why Bentsur was wasting precious company resources on passive-aggressive threats to a journalist just because he dared make an argument for why Keryx's cancer drug may not be as successful as Bentsur hopes or claims it to be.

As that journalist, Keryx's letter make me wonder what the company is afraid of, and whether they're hiding something they don't want investors to know about.

Ratain hasn't been spared the ridiculous accusations either. Some of you emailed the distinguished doctor and professor to question his motives.
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